are the data of minors sufficiently protected?

Children have access to the Internet earlier and earlier, and for more and more activities: on social networks, they watch or post content, chat with their friends, but they also play video games, and can sometimes go so far as to buy things online themselves. To use these online services, they create their own accounts, sometimes assisted or supervised by their parents, but not always. In the midst of the debate on the collection of personal data by platforms, are young people sufficiently informed when accepting the terms of use? Do minors really have the possibility of asserting their data protection rights? The CNIL conducted a survey to find out about the digital practices of young people, which are more and more massive and precocious.

Use of digital tools by minors: what are the challenges?

To better protect minors, the CNIL wanted to explore their digital uses, according to different age groups. The CNIL also collected the concerns of parents and children regarding the challenges of protecting their data. An IFOP survey was carried out in February 2020, among 1,000 parents and 500 children aged 10 to 17. At the same time, a public consultation intended for stakeholders in the education and protection of minors, collected 700 responses between April and June 2020. The CNIL has just published a report and conclusions in a report. Two clear trends are emerging: the desire of parents for greater autonomy for children, but supervised and accompanied by guarantees to ensure better protection.

Parents want more secure digital tools so their children can use them independently

We recently talked about the massive use of Youtube by children. The platform allows automatic switching from one video to another, which sends children to videos that the parents had not selected, as most of the time children find themselves watching the videos alone without the presence of adults. As confirms the survey IFOP commissioned by the CNIL, the majority of respondents consider the use of digital platforms as common acts that minors should be able to perform on their own from a certain age. According to this study, parents would be rather in favor of their children (13-14 years old) being able to decide on their own to register on a gaming site or on a social network, and 80% of respondents want children to be able to exercise their own activities alone. rights of access, rectification, erasure and opposition. However, most respondents overestimate the ability of their children to use these platforms.

A predefined protection of minors?

Parents are more in favor of more autonomy for their children, of course, but they also want to be able to ask to remove a photo of their children, apply parental controls to the content viewed or even completely block access, or certain features if necessary. . However, more than half of parents (54%) do not put in place solutions to monitor the child’s activity on the internet.
One could almost conclude, according to this report, that parents are familiar with the theory, but that they do not apply the right reflexes in practice. Screen time, data collection … Would parents be relieved if parameters were predefined so that their children are well protected by default? According to the digital players who took part in the consultation, a series of measures could be implemented: the deactivation by default of the systems for profiling minors; the display of a specific logo in the event of activation of geolocation; a ban on devices to encourage minors to stay online for as long as possible; the implementation of a reinforced default confidentiality setting for services likely to be used by young people; and a display of terms of use in a more synthetic and understandable format for children.

Do digital platforms facilitate the task of protecting minors?

Even with such measures, progress must also be made on the issue of raising the awareness of minors on the functioning of the platforms. Not to mention support for adults who are not always familiar with the use that their children make of digital tools.

The platforms, for their part, see parental consent as an obstacle to developing their services. Several of the actors consulted say they have observed a significant dropout rate when using solutions conditioning children’s access to a service requiring parents to enter data, such as the credit card number or a copy of the service. ‘an identity document. The platforms therefore favor “an approach based on risk assessment”, both for registration on network gaming sites and for opening a personal account on a social network or an online video platform.

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